Critical insecurities? The European Union’s strategy for a stable supply of minerals.

29 May 2023 


The green transition is creating exponential demand for critical raw materials. As demand currently exceeds supply for many of these minerals, governments worldwide are devising strategies to secure their stable procurement. 

In their new working paper with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Associate Professor Weihuan Zhou and Victor Crochet of Van Bael & Bellis develop an overarching framework for analysing this development by mapping out the defensive strategies adopted by resource-rich economies and the proactive strategies taken by resource-seeking economies.  

The authors use the European Union as a case study, discussing how their strategies may be implemented through a wide spectrum of policy tools aimed at enhancing and securing access to critical raw materials domestically and overseas.  

However, they argue that the effectiveness of these strategies is uncertain due to the competing interests and the challenges governments may encounter at home and abroad. Internally, strategies that seek to encourage mining activities attract environmental concerns. Externally, proactive strategies face resistance from resource-abundant economies in view of their growing demand for policy space to protect their own mineral sectors. Such strategies are also inherently competitive and, hence, might lead to growing tensions among resource-seeking economies themselves. 

‘Critical Insecurities? The European Union’s Strategy for a Stable Supply of Minerals’ is the first comprehensive study of the fast development of governments’ strategies and policies worldwide against mounting competition and confrontation along critical mineral supply chains. Currently this debate has proven to be a significant topic within European policymaking, as it is in the US, Australia, and many other jurisdictions.  

The paper can be found here.  

Associate Professor Weihuan Zhou’s research may be found at SSRN, Twitter @WeihuanZhou, and LinkedIn

Victor Crochet practices international and European trade law at Van Bael & Bellis. He is a PhD student at Cambridge University.